Booking for a second NHS COVID-19 vaccine opened to 12–15 year olds this week, as plans to vaccinate the homeless also get a funding boost

More than 75,000 schoolchildren are now being offered their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as the NHS vaccination programme opened its booking service this week for those aged 12–15 years. The Government also announced plans to vaccinate rough sleepers, with a £28 million funding boost.

Following updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, published on 29 November 2021, all eligible 12–15 year olds will be invited for their second dose, provided that their first dose was more than 12 weeks ago.

The NHS began giving first doses to 12–15 year olds at the end of September 2021 on the advice of the UK Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty. More than 1.3 million children have received a first dose, with more than 5000 schools visited. More than 75,000 are eligible for a second dose.

NHS staff are pulling out all the stops to get everyone who is eligible vaccinated, with more pop-up clinics and extended hours, so it is vital people play their part by coming forward as soon as possible to get protected,’ said NHS Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis.

Children aged 12–15 years can get their vaccine through existing school immunisation services or by booking through the national booking service to attend a vaccination site outside of school hours. No plans to vaccinate children under the age of 12 years have yet been announced.

Protect and Vaccinate scheme to vaccinate homeless

Meanwhile, the Government also announced plans to vaccinate the homeless. Under the Protect and Vaccinate scheme, £28 million will be allocated to councils across England with the aim of increasing vaccination among people sleeping rough and to provide emergency accommodation.

This will be done by delivering mobile vaccinations where people are sleeping on the streets, supporting outreach work in shelters to educate people about the dangers of COVID-19, and distributing money to councils to provide temporary accommodation.

In the wake of a surge in COVID-19 cases and a new variant, we have an even greater responsibility to protect vulnerable people,’ said Minister for Rough Sleeping Eddie Hughes.

Building on the success of the Everyone In initiative, which supported 37,000 vulnerable people into emergency and longer-term accommodation during the earlier stages of pandemic, this support will continue to help rough sleepers off the streets and protect their health.

More than half of the population have received booster jab

Over the weekend, the NHS reported that it has issued 1.7 million booster doses across England. Overall, the percentage of the population aged 12 years and over in the UK who have had their first dose is 89.5%; 81.8% have received a second dose, and 50.4% have had a booster dose.

This article was originally published on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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